Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Aylesford Skull - A Book Review

It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St. Ives, brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer, is at his home in Aylesford with his family. A few miles to the north a steam launch has been taken by pirates above Egypt Bay, the crew murdered and pitched overboard.

In Aylesford itself a grave is opened and possibly robbed of the skull. The suspected grave robber, the infamous Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, is an old nemesis of Langdon St. Ives. When Dr. Narbondo returns to kidnap his four-year-old son Eddie and then vanishes into the night, St. Ives and his factotum Hasbro race into London in pursuit...

What I liked about it: To begin with, Mr. Blaylock is an extraordinary writer. This rollicking steampunk adventure showcases his excellent prose.  Likeable characters, a vile villain and an imaginative setting makes this book into a must-read for lovers of steampunk literature.

What I didn’t like about it:  The only issue I had with this charming tale is that the end dragged out a little bit too long. It seems that poor Eddie is kidnapped, and then someone swoops in and rescues him, but then they get caught. Then he’s rescued again, but then they get caught again. I believe this happened three times, and it had me suffering from some literary whiplash. It seemed like the climax of the thing took a long time to get to, I was really impatient to get the big fight started. Then finally, it seemed to me that it ended very abruptly. Perhaps from all the buildup.

In Conclusion: Would I recommend The Aylesford Skull to Steampunk readers? Absolutely, in fact, I would say it’s headed the way of the steampunk classic, in spite of the minor flaws I mentioned. I feel I should be adding more of Mr. Baylock’s works to my personal bookshelf, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the bookstore.

Rating:  7 out of 8 Octopus legs

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Canadian Steampunk Authors and Artists

The punkettes are very proud to announce that we got a mention in Steampunk Canada's article "Canadian Authors and Artists". Please mosey over there and check out the article. There are some fantastic artists with weird and wonderful steampunk artwork as well. Also, at the very bottom is a link that will lead you to teasers of the punkettes' works-in-progress:

Canadian Artists and Authors

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: Code Name Verity

I hope everyone has had an awesome holiday season - I know I have.

But back to book reviews. There seems to be a dearth of actual Dieselpunk titles - we certainly haven't been offered any review copies anyway, so I offer you some peripherally related material. I've read some stuff that would definitely be of interest to a Dieselpunk audience. This one is a YA historical fiction novel set in WWII.

I picked this one up because a fellow reviewer raved about it. She said she didn't want to say too much about it because it would be so easy to give things away, since the story involved an unreliable narrator. But she had rated it as highly as she ever rated a book, and then I saw there was an airplane on the cover. I'm interested in WWII, as any proper Dieselpunk would be, and I love flying and think airplanes are the coolest thing in the world.

Well, Anna was right about not wanting to say too much about the plot. It begins with Julie, an agent of the French resistance, who's been captured by the Gestapo in a fictional town in France. She's been tortured, and writes that she's been given paper to write her confession on. It's eerie to read it, because she addresses the reader as if you're the Gestapo officers torturing her.

It's clear that she's stalling, starting her story from her childhood, rather than getting to the point, and you have to keep in mind that she's writing this for the Gestapo, and however many times she swears she's telling the truth, it's hard to tell how much she might be holding back. She tells the story of her friend Maddie, who flies planes for the Air Transport Auxilliary, and how Maddie came to be a pilot. I was captivated by the airplane parts

But then... well, I won't say too much more, but the author has apologized ("ewein" in the comments) for making me cry on the bus, over on my personal website. Never had a book hit me so hard, so beautifully. Apparently it's rated somewhere as one of the top 5 books that will make you cry. I've choked up on a scene before, but not like this.

But just a suggestion if you read it, when you get to a scene that begins "I don't know how things went so wrong"... find a private place to read that chapter.

Giving this one a full 12 cylinders.